Obamacare Guru: Meh, America's Largest Insurer Abandoning the Exchanges isn't a 'Big Blow'
Give it time. This guy will eventually admit that the country's largest insurer pulling out of most Obamacare exchanges augurs poorly for the fiscal health of the law he championed -- just as he finally got around to conceding that the 'Affordable' Care Act
Emanuel claims that this story is overblown because UnitedHealth wasn't a major player in the exchanges. They were enough of a player to lose over $1 billion in 2015 and 2016, and their concerns about the longer-term costs associated with unsustainable risk pools are supported by data and largely shared by other industry leaders. Notice the dissent from the other doctor in the segment, who chimes in with this reality check: “What we know that’s happening with UnitedHealthCare is the same as the canary in the coal mine. This is the first of many insurers that will bail out of the exchanges. It’s already been stated by other insurers in their board meetings. Each insurer that is participating in the Affordable Care Act is losing money.” Fewer carriers leads to fewer options, which leads to less accessible, more expensive care. And speaking of affordability:
“I’ve been asked, what are the premiums going to look like? I don’t know, because it also varies by state, market, even within markets. But I think the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw previous years. That’s my big prediction,” she said in a recent interview with Morning Consult...In 2017, two of the three “risk mitigation” programs established under Obamacare will end. They are reinsurance, or payments to plans that enroll higher-cost individuals, and risk corridors that set an allowable range for losses and gains. The third “R,” risk adjustment that distributes funds from plans with low-risk enrollees to plans with higher risk, will continue...“Remember both risk corridor – i.e. there’s no cash there, that we’re aware of. So there won’t be any predictability after last year that there’ll be cash this year. Reinsurance is going away, this is the last year of the reinsurance,” Tavenner said. “So they’re going to have to price over, around, or at least take into account what’s going on with risk corridors and reinsurance. So that’s a trend in the wrong direction.”
Those are the words of Marilyn Tavenner, Obama's former CMS chief and dutiful Obamacare cheerleader. These days, she's the president of a major insurance industry lobbying group who foresees a "trend in the wrong direction" that rates will climb "higher than we saw previous years." America's largest insurer is heading for the exits, and the industry is projecting higher costs for consumers next year -- with enrollments already down sharply, largely driven by sticker shock. Hillary Clinton, who is the original author of Obamacare, looks at all of this and declares, it's working: